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Politics and Economy of China


Admission requirements

No previous knowledge of political science or economics is required.


This course gives a basic overview the major political and economic issues relevant to the study of Modern China (including the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of China on Taiwan, and the SAR Hong Kong). The course is structured thematically rather than historically and consists of two blocks. The first section introduces political science as a discipline as well as the major theories on how Chinese politics work. It then covers six topics central to the understanding of Chinese politics. The second section introduces economics as an academic discipline, as well as some of the most basic economic models. The course then moves on to discuss issues related to China’s economic development. The central question throughout the module will be how China’s economic and political system has changed over the past decades, and how political and economic issues are related to one another.

Course objectives

Participants in this course will acquire the following: – An understanding of basic political science and economics concepts, and the ability to apply these theoretical concepts to the Chinese context. – An understanding of the broad issues and changes that characterize the political and economic system of the PRC, the ROC, and the SAR Hong Kong. – Knowledge of the mechanisms used to steer China’s political and economic development.
The course will provide the necessary background knowledge for the pursuit of BA2 courses on Chinese politics, economics, and international relations. Completion of this course will be a pre-requisite for taking such higher-level courses.


Concept day/time: Wednesday 11-13h

Mode of instruction


The work-load for this course will roughly be as follows:

  • Seminar time: 28 hours

  • Course reading: 56 hours

  • Preparing for written exam: 16 hours

  • Writing of essay: 40 hours
    Total: 140 hours

Assessment method

In order to pass this course, the following will be required of the participants:

  • Essay paper (30% of final mark).

  • Written examination with open factual questions and a brief essay question (70% of final mark).
    Regular, punctual attendance, thorough preparation of reading material, and continuous participation in plenary debates are also expected.


A list of weekly readings will be posted on blackboard the week before the start of the semester.

Additional information (lecture slides, useful websites, etc…) will also be found on blackboard over the course of the semester.

Reading list

The following text books are required background reading for this course:

  • Teufel Dreyer, June (2008), China’s Political System: Modernization and Tradition, New York et al.: Longman.

  • Naughton, Barry (2007), The Chinese Economy : Transition and Growth, Cambridge MA: The MIT Press.

Editions of these two works are available on the course shelf of the Sinology library. It is further advised that students who wish to focus on political science issues in their future studies consider obtaining a political science dictionary. The following volume is recommended for this course:

  • McLean, Iain & McMillian, Alistair (2003), The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Politics, Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press.

For anyone interested in basic economic concepts, the following book is recommended (available on the course shelf in the Sinology library):

  • Mankiw, N. Gregory (2004), Principles of Economics, 3rd ed., Mason: Thomson South-Western.

For Dutch-speakers, the following additional reading is recommended:

  • Chong, Woei-Lin & Ngo, Tak-Wing (eds.) (2008), China in Verandering: Balans en Toekomst van de Hervormingen, Almere: Parthenon. ISBN: 9079578010.


Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Contact information

For questions or additional information please contact your study coordinator, or the lecturer:
Dr. Florian Schneider
Office Location: Arsenaal 009